Wednesday, October 05, 2011

A busy day

I knew it that 45 minutes is just simply too short for a transfer between two flights at Amsterdam Schiphol airport. This is how much time I had between the official landing time and the departure time of my connecting flight.My flight from Leeds had arrived on time, I was the very first one out of the bus, moving quickly into the terminal building. By the time I was in the queue for entering the Schengen zone, only 40 minutes were left until the next flight would continue. And there was this veeeery long queue of visitors from China, which did not seem to move at all, and I had to place myself at the very end of this queue. There was a special line for "short connections", but this was closed between 12:00 and 16:30. Fortunately someone shouted "European Passports", and a new line opened, which I joined and which was very short then. Lucky, but the border control police officers seemed to have their training day today: very young officers looked very long at each passport and asked very detailed questions.

And the day had started so promising: first a few things done in the office, then driving with Gerhard to the Old Broadcasting House to the monthly Open Coffee meeting at 10:00. Then driving back to Headingley again, to give my lecture at 11:00. Before that, ordering the taxi and arranging for car parking. After the lecture, the taxi came in time and brought me to the airport, 1 1/2 hours before departure. Plenty of time, as the Leeds Bradford airport was quite empty around noon. The only inconvenience was that the taxi let me off 200 m before the airport, because otherwise additional £ would have to be paid: there is no more free passenger drop at Leeds Bradford airport. Greedy people! Now taxis stop before the airport, passengers walk along the road, and I saw several groups who waited for a pick-up from friends along the street outside. I can predict what soon there will be: any kind of stopping in the vicinity of 1000 m around the airport will be made illegal. Then it may really be better to fly from Manchester airport.

When boarding in Leeds, I was told that I had to change the seat - it was faulty. Ok, so I got a nice wide legroom space in the emergency exit row - which usually costs extra. Had my window seat, and dozed off a little after munching the savory snack. Arrived on time in Amsterdam.

And now in that Schengen queue, where I was inching slowly forward. Behind me a guy from York who was on my flight and also had to catch another flight. Finally my turn, after the officer carefully checks my boarding pass and the passport, I can go through. Now only the x-ray procedure, then I am clear and have entered Europe. The boards show my flight is already boarding - and the signs indicate a 24 minute walk from here to gate B26! I start running now. The Amsterdam airport is very big. I use the moving walkways wherever possible and walk fast on them; on the regular hallways I just run, pulling my rolling carry-on behind me. Reach the gate - no passengers are there anymore, but I am still in time. Go down the stairs, and am the last one on the bus. After I enter, the doors close and it drives to the tarmac where the next Cityhopper is waiting.

After that little exercise I can relax in the plane on the short flight to Luxembourg. Arrive in time. Weather is warmer than in Leeds, still some remnants of the weekend heat wave. At the hotel, they cannot find my reservation. But it does not matter, because they still have a room.

Then I take a bus towards the town. With me on the bus is another participant of tomorrow's meeting, whom I already knew from a few years ago - nice to see him here already. I get off at the Philharmonie Luxembourg in Kirchberg. Pick up my ticket, have a sandwich snack for dinner, then enjoy a marvelous concert: "Terezín / Theresienstadt". Anne Sofie von Otter sings songs which were composed and played by inmates of the concentration camp Theresienstadt. Very moving.

Back to the hotel, preparing for the weekly online chat with students at California Lutheran University (in California obviously) which is from midnight until 0:45.

Yes, this was quite a busy day. But overall very enjoyable. Tomorrow is the FP7 Call 8 Info Day. Will be again quite busy.

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